Sir Alex backs Ronaldo, admits Ruud may leave

July 18, 2006

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson insists Cristiano Ronaldo is going nowhere and believes the winger will not be adversely affected by any abuse from the terraces next season.

Ferguson also insisted Ruud van Nistelrooy will not be allowed to leave on the cheap and hinted at a possible move for Patrick Vieira following the demotion of Juventus.

Ronaldo angered England fans when appearing to play a part in Wayne Rooney's sending off during the World Cup quarter-final with Portugal.

The 21-year-old was roundly booed during his country's remaining matches in Germany and is expected to face a similar reaction from fans of other Premiership clubs.

Ronaldo initially expressed a desire to leave Britain and United, prompting speculation of a move to Real Madrid.

However, Ferguson said: 'Without any question, Ronaldo will be our player next season and for the rest of his contract.

'I haven't paid much attention to what Cristiano is supposed to have said about his future, but he will be back on July 31 to start training again with us.

'I haven't spoken to him since the World Cup, but there have been other players down the years who have had stick.

'David Beckham came back after the World Cup in 1998 and had it, while Eric Cantona had it all the time - everywhere he went.

'They can only boo for so long, and if you're playing well and winning, it quietens them down.

'There will be no problem with Cristiano and it certainly didn't affect him when he was booed at the World Cup.

'He reacted positively and played well. He's got a fantastic attitude and he's a really strong character.'

Van Nistelrooy is expected to join Real, although Ferguson insists the Dutch striker will only be allowed to leave if the price is right.

'There's a possibility that Ruud will go,' said Ferguson. 'There have been bits of interest in him, but no one at this moment has reached our asking price.

'It's no surprise, really, that he asked to go, but when you see that Andriy Shevchenko went for £30million, he's a similar age to Ruud and their record in Europe is almost identical, so you can absolutely guarantee that we're not going to give Ruud away.'

Ferguson is believed to have earmarked Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres as a possible replacement for van Nistelrooy.

And he yesterday fuelled speculation that United may look to bring Vieira back to the Premiership following the relegation of Italian giants Juventus.

Ferguson said: 'Everybody will be looking at all the Juventus players, no question about that.

'Buffon, Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Thuram, Emerson and Vieira are the ones that people will be focusing on because there's some element that suggests that players could maybe have free transfers if they were going outside of Italy.

'We're talking to several clubs, but obviously the Italian situation has given us a different avenue.

'We have held a lot of things back until we knew what the Juventus situation was.

'Now we know where we're going in terms of making definite inquiries and maybe definite offers for one or two players.'